My daughter's name, Marissa, means of the sea. It's proved to be fitting considering her lifelong obsession with The Little Mermaid (including being a Disney Cast Member at Ariel's Undersea Adventure) and having spent her tween and and teen years living down the street from the ocean.
Born and raised in Southern California, not once in her twenty-three years has she ever been more than a few hundred feet above sea level. I have never took her up to see the mountains (nor has she ran for them either) — until last week on Sunday.
It was the beginning of Marissa's weekend and I wanted to take her somewhere, do something. Mike said he was up for anything — just name it. He'd mentioned after our last trip of wanting to take Marissa to Lake Arrowhead next time we went up and OH MY GOD COULD WE GO TO LAKE ARROWHEAD AGAIN TODAY? And could we get McDonald's?
Before I could say "Big Mac" we were heading back to the mountain — but this time taking a different route so we could pass through Big Bear! Big Bear is around ninety miles from Anaheim and about thirty miles away and higher up from Lake Arrowhead. When we got to the end of the freeway, Siri told us to get out and walk to our destination. Siri seems bitter.
Fortunately the freeway eventually flowed into a narrow, two-lane road with the mountains surrounding us on all sides. The colors of the landscape, along with the landscape itself, were breathtaking! There was a brief moment of berating myself for all the years I let fear keep me from experiencing such natural beauty in my own backyard. I was blown away by what we were beholding.
We also noticed a lot of people were coming down off the mountain. Like, a non-stop stream of 'em. I was checking to see if they looked panicked or were motioning for us to turn around and save ourselves. But was hard to tell while they all sped over the speed limit past us.
When I was a kid (and even later as a young mom traveling with my family up to Oregon), one of my favorite things to do on a road trip was to stop, specifically at turnouts and gas stations (but not fast food restaurants and rest stops — stories for another time). There is something about pulling up to the pump before hitting the road that invokes a sense of excitement for me. An adventure awaits! The next time we fill 'er up it will be in another town far from where we started. Also, there will be snacks. I had my eye on the peanut M&Ms the minute Mike stopped at the 76 Gas Station Mini Mart. By this time we were just a few miles from Big Bear Lake.
Each time we read aloud an elevation marker, we clapped and cheered. We were at over 7,000 feet when we reached Bear Bear Lake. I had not been this high since I took Percocet in 2010. Marissa and I were also absolutely stoked by glimpses of the smallest patches of snow (more like blocks of dirty ice) that had yet to melt in the spring-like temps.